Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bushi Navi Review - Mikeru

Guest blogger Mikeru, a player and follower of Bushiroad products and culture in Singapore, evaluates Bushi Navi International’s value in adding value to promoting Buddyfight in its early months and Bushiroad culture as a whole.

We all know too well how the market-saturated trading card game and tabletop game franchises like Duel Masters and Battle Spirits are promoted in Japan. Yes, we all can predict the formulaic anime series about this enigmatic kid or preteen destined to Be A Master by winging his way up tournaments and saving the world by playing children’s games to thwart an evil villain interwoven into the tournament arc with advertisements for the physical cards dominating the commercial slots during the airing. An alternative strategy is to make the marketing dynamic and add the “interacting with real people” element to a franchise otherwise represented only by 2D depictions. For example, an aggressively marketed variety show about the franchise that takes the chance to feature up-and-coming idols and "tarentoosu" (talents) and invite the kids on stage for demonstration duels or report live tournaments. Well, the Japanese kids buy it quite well.

Bushiroad, being the super-promoter she is, has obviously not left out the latter, with their live broadcasts in Japan to promote Cardfight!! Vanguard, bringing in their bevy of seiyuus (voice actors) and affiliated celebrities such as DAIGO and their "pros" onto the show. And the commercials. Has anyone seen Japanese commercials?
Such Asian smiles

Now, they have adopted a much toned-down version of the said strategy for the English speaking audience in the form of Bushi Navi International, a 4-episode livestream webshow with 2-way viewer interaction serving as an introduction to the Buddyfight franchise. The webshow also had a secondary focus on promoting upcoming products for existing card games Cardfight!! Vanguard and Weiss Schwarz, as well as upcoming tournaments for those games.

In this webshow, the hosts spend the pilot episode (Episode 0) explaining the gameplay and card types of Buddyfight. In subsequent episodes, they discuss cards from soon-to-be-released booster expansions. The variety of cards covered is spread fairly across the various Worlds, and players, with some personal inference, can get a good feel of the themes and playstyle of each World. Host Kai goes through each archetype individually and evaluates their effects and playability. However, save for his elaboration on the Jackknife archetype and their branched “evolution chains”, there isn't really that much on how individual cards can be paired up to synergize with other specific ones. One positive about the presentation is the thorough explanations of conditional situations where Impact Cards function at their peak, which make good clarifications about these seemingly-powerful cards which we may mistakenly brand as overpowered. Explanations of the different abilities in the game such as Penetrate, Double Attack, Move and Lifelink are covered thoroughly in the webshow.
Bushi Navi Episode 4 June 25 2014 Ad
Valerie: Nico nico niii~
Apart from sampling the card pool, Bushi Navi International also gives viewers a look at brief videos and slideshows of events worldwide, though I feel this is more of a flaunt stunt by Bushiroad to display and convince viewers their influence on the Western markets (ha). The slideshows also are a treat to those who like looking at “rare stuff”, such as a peek into Bushiroad’s USA office and the novel displays like the giant-sized statue of Drum Bunker Dragon.

The last feature worth mentioning is the supposed ability for viewers to interact with the hosts. Viewers are given the option to send in their questions via their Facebook page or comment directly during the livecast and the hosts will answer their questions live. This feature is good for clarification of doubts by newcomers or players not quite willing to lay their fingers on the game yet. However, some of the questions chosen were not particularly innovative or constructive, and somehow these were not sifted out. For instance, in Episode 1, a viewer asked an obvious question on how he mistakenly thought that the episode should have been labeled Episode 2 when the preceeding eposide was intended by the producers to be the pilot, Episode 0. An answer in black-and-white would have sufficed instead of answering it on-screen. Viewers were also asked to suggest fan-made Worlds in Episode 1, and the answers do look hauntingly familiar to archetypes in other trading card games. There were the an Angel and Cloud worlds focused on celestial beings which were inferably spun from Vanguard’s Angel Feather and the Gadget World’s theme of electronic-items-turned-monsters being able to switch their stats is all too similar to the Morphtonic archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh! Questions like these not only waste screen time, but they remind us all too much of the ominous influence of Cardfight!! Vanguard and Yugioh. We hope that Buddyfight strives to maintain it's individuality and uniqueness.

Hosting – Informative but short of engaging

Both hosts, Valerie Tang and Kai, are from my country, Singapore, and their names should ring a bell, albeit faintly, to Singapore TCG players and convention frequents. The hosts’ engagement with the audience is good for an advertorial program and Kai demonstrates familiarity with his subject matter.

However, Valerie sticks out to viewers as the weaker host of the duo. Disproportionately, Kai’s script trumps Valerie in terms of quality and air time - most of the time, the former is the one introducing and evaluating the cards while his female companion mostly nods in agreement with him or makes obvious comments. I’ll redeem her with brownie points for maintaining good eye contact in comparison to her previous hosting project, WOW Japan, another webshow series that focuses on the local anime and Japanese entertainment scene in our country, where she is sometimes panned for reading off her printed script placed in front of her or when the script is placed next to the camera at eye level in subsequent episodes as well as lacking focus and expression in her eyes.
Bushi Navi Valerie and Kai
Kai showing off his 6-packs
More nitpicky viewers might feel that Valerie’s enthusiasm might be too forced or that she is trying too hard to act enthusiastic in a moe way and that the studio is not aesthetically pleasing - setup is too cluttered, yet bland (*points at the miniature Buddy Worlds flags on the table).

While the run of Bushi Navi has ended, it is still worth watching for new players if you want a video presentation of the rudimentary elements of BF and acquaint yourself with the different Worlds and samples of the card pool. This is a rather lengthy chore to force yourself to watch 40-minute episodes back to back while scrolling through adverts, not to mention that the event promotions and giveaway sections that are no longer relevant (I didn't win anything anyways - Blaise). If you are not used to webshows and podcasts, you might find that Bushi Navi International falls short of engaging in terms of overall presentation, but this does not detract from the information presented by this quirky yet somewhat useful program.

Valerie Tang Jie Yi

Valerie Tang is a Singaporean-Chinese J-pop singer formerly from a now-defunct idol group known as Sea*A and is promoted as an anime idol in the country. She re-debuted as a solo artiste who performs at major anime concerts such as I Love Anisong concerts in Singapore and the Anisama Live in Japan, but her main focus is hosting at major anime conventions in the country. Her previous webshow, WOW Japan, is an informercial for various subculture events and business establishments in Singapore.

You can find her on Facebook,
Twitter, and YouTube. You can also check out her WOW Japan Playlist on YouTube.


As self-proclaimed on the webshow, Kai is a longtime avid player of Bushiroad games starting from their first, Weiss Schwarz, from which he amassed a thorough knowledge of their products and gameplay. He represented Singapore in the 2009 Weiss Schwarz World Grand Prix as the runner-up of the qualifying Singapore Finals. Kai also hosts at several anime events in Singapore and works for various anime, Japanese-subculture and gaming promotion projects in the country.

All images were used obtained from the official Bushiroad website and used here solely for reference purposes. Future Card Buddyfight!, logos, and respective content belong to Bushiroad. Bushi Navi also belongs to Bushiroad. Everything belongs to Bushiroad.

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